Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

telephone boxes

I was on holiday in London in the old days of concertina wooden doors to telephone kiosks in Piccadilly Underground phoning my Aunt and I asked her when she had last seen her brother - my Uncle. I moved position in the box and discovered he was on the phone in the next box

Leap year babies

Some years ago I attended a course in Canterbury. Of the 20 or so attenders three of us were parents, with a total of five children. Out of these, two shared the same birthday: 29 February (different years).

Telephone Call

When I was 15 or 16 (1960/1961) I decided to ring my pal who lived down the road. I picked up the phone to dial and there wasn't a dial tone. Whilst I was waiting for a dial tone to come on, my pal spoke (to himself) saying something like 'where is he'. I had picked up the phone to ring him at the point in between him dialling the last number at his house and the phone ringing at mine.

House Name

We moved into our home on the 18th December 1998 and decided to rename the property. My Mother in Law thought Holly Cottage had a nice festive ring and we placed this on the deeds. A few years later my Wife's Uncle searched the history of our home and discovered that it used to be a market garden and the owner's name was Henry Holly.

Birthdays down the generations

in three generations, granny has three children girl1, boy, girl2 girl2's older child (a boy) has the same birthday as girl1, the oldest child in her generation and boy's youngest child (in a family with the same pattern as his own: girl, boy, girl) has the same birthday as girl2, i.e. the last child in a family with the identical pattern. From granny's perspective: her oldest child has the same birthday as her oldest grandchild, and her youngest child has the same birthday as her youngest grandchild (of seven), in a family with the same pattern as her own.

Uncle in an anthropological study

I was having tea with a friend of a friend in an Oxford college. We were both from Delhi in India but did not share any common friends or networks from Delhi. We got talking about what we were studying- I was working on inequalities in Britain and her work turned out to be an anthropological study of a tribe in North East India on the Burmese border. She showed me some pictures of her field work and to my surprise l recognised my uncle and his house. Suddenly the world felt a lot smaller than I had thought before.

Late for Work Excuse

I regularly used to be late for work, my supervisor became increasingly annoyed and gave me a good telling off. The next day I overslept so I made up a story about my cat bringing a blackbird into the kitchen and having to wait for my neighbour who liked animals to return from dropping someone at the station so that I could ask her to come in and remove the bird. Since everyone in the office knew I couldn't bear birds the story was accepted and nothing more was said. The next morning, the entire situation happened exactly as I had lied about it the day before.

House buying

When buying my first house, I looked around dozens of homes for sale in Bristol - somewhere I'd lived for a couple of years (I grew up in East Anglia). After weeks of searching I was shown one home and got the immediate feeling that this was the one to buy. Not unusual I know, but six months later, after buying the house and moving in, my aunt was doing some family research and discovered that my great great great uncle used to live in the very same house. I had no previous knowledge that any of my distant relatives lived in Bristol.

Dates of birth, meeting

My birth was finally registered in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia on the 8th. of August, 1951. (I was born in Ndola, on the 17th. of June, 1951.) Twenty years later, our elder son and first child was born in London on the 8th. of August, 1971. A year before, I met my parents-in-law for the first time on the 8th. of August, 1970. In 1951 and 1971, there were strikes at both hospitals of the births. "Coincidence is God's way of remaining invisible." I heard someone say on the radio decades ago...

Elizabeth C

I have one brother. My parents died on our birthdays. My father died on 4th January 1976, my brother's 30th birthday and my mother died on my 61st birthday 14th May 2009.

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